For you shall eat the labor of your hands: happy shall you be, and it shall be well with you.…
Labor is not a part of the judgment on man's fall; the conditions under which he has to labor may be. Labor is presupposed in the nature of man, and in his relations to the material world in which he is placed. There is a fixed, natural, and necessary connection between labor and reward; but man's frailties and sins, with their consequences, make contingent what should be necessary. And so the reaping of reward for toil comes properly to be regarded as a sign of Divine working; an intervention and overruling of Divine providence. A very curious instance of the way in which nature illustrates even human wrongdoing is seen in the fish-eating bird, that will not fish for himself, but watches for and snatches away the prey for which another bird has labored, thus coming in between labor and reward, as evil men so often do.
I. THE NATURAL LINK. God has fixed, in the order of nature, that profit, increase, shall universally attend labor. The model is found in the harvest-field. Plant a seed in the prepared ground, and that labor shall be rewarded with thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold. There is always something wrong when no reward follows labor. This law is as fixed as the law of the sunrising, and therefore the confidence of reward is always acting as an incentive to labor.
II. THE INTERRUPTIONS OF THE NATURAL LINK. For interruptions of the natural order there are in this as in every other sphere of nature. It is said, "There is no law without exceptions." It would be better to say, "without limitations and qualifications." Some are
(1) natural. Lack of rain, locust-plague, etc., may prevent reward following labor in the harvest-field. Some are
(2) artificial. They arise out of men's enmities or wrongdoings, as when Bedouins sweep away the harvest of the farmer's toil.
III. THE RESTORATION OF THE NATURAL LINK. In this way the work of Divine grace in godly lives may be presented. Even while recognizing Divine permissions of calamity, we may dwell restfully on the assurance of Divine overruling. Just what God is doing in every individual and every family life of which he approves is, removing or restraining the artificial, and restoring the natural. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.